In The Light: Josh Datta

Senior Jash Datta, wearing a slanted baseball cap and a killer smile, was not always so uber-cool. “If you had known me when I first came here, I was a very introverted kind of guy … in my shell, and you wouldn’t have recognized me.” But, Datta says, “college goes by much too quick,” and you simply have to take advantage of all the opportunities it gives you. One of the greatest opportunities, Datta believes, is the ability to branch out intellectually and socially. “It’s possible to do well academically and still make friends and advance socially,” he said.

Around Datta’s neck is a Chinese inscription, meaning “Bless me with Peace,” which he purchased in China at the beginning of this summer. Datta was there with his Core Distinction Program studying the healthcare systems of developing countries. However, it is clear that Datta has already been blessed with peace – his composure and friendliness, as well as his incredibly altruistic plans for the future, seem to carry with them an aura of harmony.

An avid musician, Datta’s eyes light up when he talks about his true love: the violin, which he has been playing for “about forever”; though, he has also picked up the viola, guitar, piano and drums in the meantime, “just for fun.” His love of music has also brought him to participate in the orchestra and the Chamber Player Ensemble. You can even catch Datta at Open Mic nights performing various songs he has written.

According to Datta, being a musical member of the community “is extremely rewarding.” Music is something that dominates his life. Datta is a WRCU DJ and plays an eclectic mix of party music, including hip-hop and reggae, Friday nights from 7-9 p.m. You can be sure to catch Datta at the clubs – a passionate dancer, you can find him “bumping and grinding” at the Jug and Palace Theater until the wee hours of the morning.

Although Datta loves music, he excels academically as well. Last fall he was honored with the Short-Term Exchange Scientist Award and the opportunity to work at the National Institute of Health (NIH), one of the premier research institutions in the country. “The opportunity was amazing,” Datta said.

While at NIH Datta researched the retinoblastoma protein, which is a tumor suppressor growth. According to Datta, “95 percent of human cancers have mutations in this gene.” He and his fellow scientists worked to discover how to suppress the growth in cancer. Datta was also named as a second author in a primary scientific publication – a huge achievement for a student.

Datta, whose mantra is “do your thang,” has also been involved in SACC and the Brothers. He believes the Brothers “are tackling a lot of big issues this year that affect people of color on Colgate’s campus.” He also has worked closely with the Alana Cultural Center to expose the campus to the multicultural aspect of Colgate. In his fleeting spare time, Datta can also be found assisting in a lab as a T.A., tutoring children in Hamilton, ushering at University Theater productions and teaching violin lessons to kids in the Hamilton area.

When Datta talks about his future, it’s clear that he has thought a lot about it. “First,” he said, “is Med School.” Then he intends to be a teaching physician scientist who will work in a teaching hospital and be a research advisor. “I’ll also be a Pediatric Oncologist,” Datta said, “and I won’t forget my music.”

To first-year students, Datta suggests that they “get to know as many people as possible – even if it’s through Facebook.” He looks around the Coop, waving to several people in each direction. “I mean,” he said, smiling, ” I know like hundreds of people and that’s just great.”